Ronald Searle sleeves

Dick-Deadeye album cover by Ronald Searle

The death of illustrator Ronald Searle recently was depressing news. I grew up devouring his work in the Nigel Molesworth books (and later shamelessly copying them for our school magazine). I remembered having one album sleeve by him and have been to the shelves to hunt it out.
The album is the Original Soundtrack for Dick Deadeye. It’s not a film I remember, an animated story based upon the works of Gilbert & Sullivan, with music (or which the album is 40 minutes worth of highlights) updated to a mid-seventies style.
Searle was the main character designer, doing detailed drawings for all the main roles. These were then adapted by the animation team. A book of his original drawings was issued as well as this album, which features a great Searle pen and ink and watercolour illustration on the front. The back cover seems to be a Searle illustration but with figures drawn by somebody else, and might be a cell from the film. The inner gatefold has Searle line drawings.

Dick-Deadeye album cover by Ronald Searle
Issued in 1975, the movie was apparently a flop though I’m tempted now to try and find a copy to see what I missed (“Overall, the film is amusing in places, but I’m not dying to see it again. The animation is lush and skillfully done; the story is simply not all that clever,” according to a G&S website).
Anyhow as a Ronald Searle admirer it is a great sleeve. Nor was it his only album cover. He also did the opening title work (and film poster) for Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, which came out as a soundtrack album as well – slightly marred by that nasty yellow flash across the corner.

magnificent men album cover by Ronald Searle
A much more obscure cover is a cast recording of a Tom Lehrer revue, Tomfoolery, issued in 1980. Great cover illustration I assume done for the theatrical poster.

tom foolery album cover by Ronald Searle

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